Lesson 31: "Man Praying or Prophesying. . .Woman Praying or Prophesying" (I Corinthians 11:4-5)
I Corinthians 11:2-16
Paul's Missionary Journey Epistles. This is lesson #31. Welcome again! I trust you know that the first part of ch. 11 is a very controversial passage. Some find in these verses hats, veils and all kinds of head coverings for women. I would like for you to take a moment, close your eyes, and pull together in your own mind all that you know about Corinth and all the problems in the Corinthian congregation. Remember Acts ch. 18, and the beginning of that congregation. Paul was there a year and a half. Peter visited Corinth, possibly Barnabas, Apollos, the eloquent Alexandrian; preached at Corinth. We know a little about their division and preacheritis. There were fornication and marriage problems. Some were suing each other at the law. Others did not accept Paul's apostleship and this all seemed to have something to do with supporting preachers. There were arguments over eating meat offered to idols. Someone at Corinth wrote to Paul, we learned at the beginning of ch. 7. We have covered some five or six of the questions submitted to Paul. Get a good mental picture of this rather large congregation of Christians located in a very large city, very evil, very cosmopolitan, and a very mobile population where idolatry and the Greek philosophers abounded. Now, you may need to hit that pause button. When you're ready: open your eyes and lefs read v.2-16 in I Cor. ch. 11. What was Paul's instruction in theses verses? Are you ready? Why did Paul write this? Let's read! Beginning in v.2 "Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you. But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonored! his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoreth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels. Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God. Judge hi yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering. But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God."
O.K., what did you learn? First, hi v.2, Paul commended the brethren at Corinth for remembering him. At least some had come to him with their questions. No doubt many at Corinth were trying to follow what Paul had taught them. Paul commended them. Did you find any hats, head coverings, scarfs or similar items of clothing or costumes? The bible I'm using has a heading inserted here: "The Covering of Women's Heads.' I have a survey of I Corinthians hi my hand written by Jimmy Allen. His tide for this section is "Wearing of die Veil." Another commentary by McGarvey and Pendleton entitles this section: "Concerning Head Costume." Also, die different translations likewise have much variation hi diese verses, I observe. Where die KJV had "covered" or "uncovered" die ASV uses "veiled" or "unveiled" when it pertains to a woman. Where it pertains to men die ASV likewise uses die word "covered" and "uncovered." However, according to Strong's dictionary die Greek word does not literally mean a veil or a covering. Nevertheless, some have concluded dial Jewish women wore veils to worship, but die Greek women hi dieir pagan worship did not wear a veil. Thus, some diink die question submitted to Paul was whedier a Christian woman should or should not wear a veil during worship. Others assert dial decent women hi mat day always wore veils which symbolized subjection to their husbands. To not wear a veil, reduced a woman to die level of an adulteress. That is die opinion of some, at least. Couldn't I show with just as much wisdom and possibly with more accuracy using die story of Judah and his sexual encounter widi Tamar, his widowed daughter-in-law, back hi Gen. ch. 38 that for a woman to wear a veil symbolized a harlot or a prostitute. And, that is just die opposite thought. If you don't know dial story of Judah and Tamar, please read it. This head covering or veil business, as an item of clothing is just a figment of somebody's imagination. If you have been taught that, forget it! Take a moment! Forget it! Lefs start over!
The trick word that tends to confuse hi diis scripture is die word "head" - H-E-A-D. The word "head" occurs 9 times hi 5 verses. The word "head" hi diese verses each time comes from die same Greek word. Almost any word you look up hi the dictionary has more dian one meaning or connotation. In one dictionary I have; mere are 31 different connotations listed for die word "head." It means everydiing from die foam on a glass of beer to a military toilet. The question we must answer: what does die word "head" mean hi die context we just read? Did you observe dial die text hi v.3 used die word "head" three times and the word "head" is defined hi that verse? Now, I want you to do somediing right here. Take a pencil and a sheet of paper and diagram v.3 on your paper. That's what diey put drat pause button on your tape player for; so pause it long enough to draw diis diagram. Have you got it? Your diagram should look something like diis. The word "God" from v.3 is at die top of your sheet. About a fourth way down die page is die word "Christ." Under dial is die word "man" and under man is woman." Now, look at your diagram and re-read v.3. Then, draw an arrow from die woman to her head, which is man. Draw an arrow pointing from die man to his head, which is Christ. Draw an arrow from Christ to Christ's head. Have you got it? Some translations use a capital "H" when the word "Head" means Christ. The KJV doesn't. Alright, now, let me ask you a question! Why, is it dial when we read v.4, which uses die word "head" twice more; why is it dial we start dunking of die top part of a man? Well, dial is one of the definitions in my dictionary; but, why drat definition? Surely, you get die point. If you will use v.3 and your diagram to substitute; dien v.4 would lead luce diis: "Every man praying or prophesying, having Christ covered, dishonoreth Christ." But, you want to know, right now, how can a man cover Christ when he prays or prophesies? Right? O.K. That's a good question. However, that's what Paul said. Or, is dial not what he said? Convince yourself now! Is it? Or isn't it? I didn't write diis! Paul wrote diis! I'm just trying to figure out what Paul said. So, how can a man cover Christ when he prays to God? Look at your diagram! Got any ideas? To cover somediing, hi one sense means to take audiority over it. I've got you covered! I have my car covered with insurance! That is, it is covered by audiority or jurisdiction or dominion. I can't see dial covering of insurance; but, I believe it's covered. Now, die question is: How can I cover, or take authority over, or jurisdiction over or dominion over Christ? How can I do dial? When we pray, we are to address our prayer to God. Now diis is talking about prayer, check me on dial. The primary diought had to do widi prayer and prophesying; not dress. We are to pray in Christ's name or by Christ's audiority. In die upper room Jesus told die apostles, "Whatsoever ye shall ask die Father in my name, he will give it you." What if I should ask God die Fadier (praying around Christ on your diagram, now) and ask God to save me witiiout being baptized when Jesus said: "He dial believeth and is baptized shall be saved?" Would I not be taking authority over Christ, my head, and covering Christ's name and covering Christ's authority? To prophesy, we have said before, means to teach by divine inspiration. Remember, diere were prophets among die Corindiians and among die Thessalonians; we've talked about diis before. What if diey taught somediing contrary to Christ's will? Would dial be covering or taking audiority over Christ? Of course it would! Is diis important? You better believe it's important. Souls depend upon it. So, Paul said in v.3, "I would have you know..." Know what Paul? He would have us know die order or chain of command by which to pray or prophesy. So, diis is die rule, learn it well!
Now, let's do a flip-flop. Take a look at your diagram. Everydiing diat has been said up to now, (i.e., down through v.4) has involved God, Christ and man. The next natural and logical thing for Paul to consider would involve die woman. Look at your diagram. Remember now, diis was written by Paid and from die standpoint of a man. Look at your diagram from die standpoint of die man on your diagram. Before, hi v.4, it involved only die man and die chain of command above die man. The case of die woman as I said flip-flops diis arrangement. So, it's only natural that Paul, being a man, and speaking from die man's point of view hi diis chain of command, would say it somewhat differendy. Before we read v.5; let me ask you: is it proper for woman to pray around a man, i.e., her husband. Realizing, of course, she must pray in die name of Christ also; but, what about die man?
Is there to be agreement between man and wife (just like Christ and man) or can we pray contrary to the wishers of the man and cancel out her husband's prayers, so-to-speak. V.5 is saying it would be improper for the woman to do that. To pray around the man would not be in subjection to the man and (look at your diagram) that would put the woman on a plain with the man and thus violate v.3 up above. The apostle Peter, in giving instruction to husbands, said (I Pet. 3:7) "dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of live; [why Peter?] that your prayers be not hindered." Thus, Peter said an improper or estranged relationship between a man and his wife can hinder their prayer life, i.e., destroy its effectiveness. That's probably an understatement, really. Now, the hang-up comes in v.5 with the word "head" - H-E-A-D. Paul uses the word "uncovered" (v.5), i.e., not covered, to mean not under proper authority, i.e., not in subjection. You see, that's a flip-flop from the verse above. Observe that Paul used the word "head" twice in v.5. The first usage does not follow the defined usage up hi v.3. The word head is substituted here to mean one's entire being. Have you heard someone say he has a sentence hanging over his head? In Ezekiel 16:43 in the O.T. we read, "behold, therefore I will recompense thy way upon thine head, saith the Lord God..." i.e., upon his entire being. That is the sense the word "head" is used the first time in v.5. The second time the word "head" occurs in v.5; it is used in the same sense as before, i.e., as defined in v.3 and as used hi v.4. It may take a little time; analyze it close. Now, the last part of v.5 along with all of v.6; is simply saying that if a woman (or wife) will not submit to proper authority with respect to this chain of command, as defined in v.3, then it is the same as if she were cut off; i.e., it's same as if we were to wantonly disobey any other command of God. If not corrected, it could cause one to be lost. If you chase down the meaning of the Greek words used for shaven and shorn; it's simply another way of saying "cut off." The words have to do with sheering sheep, cutting off the wool; a figure those people were all familiar with. Thus, Paul concludes v.6 by saying: "let her be covered."
Alright now, v.7-16 is Paul's restatement and Paul's illustration. Do you remember; we have talked about Paul's style before? Paul answers a question or gives a rule and then Paul usually restates and illustrates about two or three times. Do you remember Paul's farm and building illustration back in ch. 3? Do you remember Paul's circumcision and slave or servant illustration hi ch. 7, illustration: "as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk?" Do you remember Paul's "warfare - vineyard - milk of the flock and muzzle the ox" illustrations hi ch. 9? Do you remember his athletic game illustrations at the end of ch. 9? It's simply Paul's style. So, get it hi focus: v.7-16 is Paul's restatement and illustration for the above chain of command rule for praying and prophesying. In Paul's illustrations he tries (as usual) to show this is not so unreasonable as it might appear at first. In v.7 Paul simply restates his rule for the man. The word "head" hi v.7 is used as defined hi v.3. In v.8-9-10 Paul makes reference back to the beginning, i..e, Gen. ch. 1 & 2. That's the order by which God created the man and woman. In v. 10 Paul uses the word "head" for the 9th tune and the last time in this section. In v.10 the word "head" is used like the first usage hi v.5, i.e., as used back hi Ezekiel 16:43. Seven times "head" is used as defined hi v.3 and twice with a different connotation. I'm not quite sure what the angels have to do with it in v.10; but, I would assume the thought is that just as the angels must be in subjection to the creator, so must we. Then hi v.11-12, the apostle softens up a little, lest someone would interpret this rule for prayer and teaching as a slave and master relationship between a man and woman; the apostle shows that hi reality they must treat each other as human beings and be hi a unilateral relationship also. Both are responsible to God and both must remember, "there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one hi Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:28). Then in v.13 the apostle restates his case again. Except he puts it in the form of a question this time. Honestly now, you judge! You make the decision! Would it be proper for a woman to pray to God and not be in proper subjection to her husband? What if a man prayed, "Lord, I want to be an elder hi your church. Help me to be qualified and to be a good elder." What if then his wife should pray, "Lord, please don't let him be an elder...I don't want the responsibility!" Who would God listen to? Would that be proper hi prayer or in teaching? Thus, God has established an order for these things, you see. Then in v.14-15 Paul illustrates again. Even hi the realm of nature there is something else; but, Paul chose to illustrate with the difference in a man's hair and woman's hair. A woman has more hah-, finer hair and it grows more profusely than a man's hair. I might get into beauty shops, hah: dressers and all that; but it's true. A man an woman are different! So, why should it upset you that God gave men and women different roles hi worship?
Then finally, in v.16, lest someone should try to bind this long hair—short hair part of Paul's illustration as a rule or commandment and bring about unnecessary arguments (contentions); Paul clarified, he and his companions had no such custom and neither should it be bound as a custom hi the church of God. We'll begin with v. 17 hi lesson #32. Until then have a good day!